Science, Health & Tech

We cover these essential linchpins of the Pittsburgh regional economy, and how they impact residents' personal health and employment. 

Andrew Harnik / AP

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced his second congressional hearing of the week Wednesday, and Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle of the 14th District is one of many members of Congress to question him on the privacy of Facebook's users. He also proposed a government oversight agency to regulate Facebook and its competitors.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Most people associate ultrasound technology with pregnancy and the little heartbeat on the monitor. A researcher at the University of Pittsburgh has a slightly different application in mind.

Nitin Sharma, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Pitt, recently received more than $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop algorithms that could measure muscle function in patients with partial paralysis due to spinal cord injuries — just by looking at ultrasound images of affected areas.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Kelsey Bushnell just turned a year old. Like most babies, she’s very interested in grabbing new things and putting them in her mouth. On the day I visited her home, she was particularly fascinated with my microphone cord.

SUBCONSCI PRODUCTIONS / Flickr

Members of Pittsburgh's immigrant and refugee communities are dealing with a variety of issues that can make health care treatments challenging, according to a forum on Thursday hosted by Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Darryl Matevish / AP

Artificial intelligence developed by Carnegie Mellon University can pinpoint which commercial buildings are most likely to catch fire.

Pat Sullivan / AP

A researcher at Duquesne University has developed anti-inflammatory pain medication that could be more effective than current options — while also using far smaller doses.

The "nanomedicine," created by Jelena Janjic, co-director of Duquesne's Chronic Pain Research Consortium and associate professor of pharmaceutics, and colleagues, is able to effectively target specific, affected areas of the body. Common anti-inflammatory drugs are distributed indiscriminately throughout the body via the bloodstream after being ingested.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

How prepared is the city of Pittsburgh for a ransomware attack?

The former top federal prosecutor in western Pennsylvania says cities like Pittsburgh can take simple steps to protect themselves from ransomware attacks like the ones crippling computer systems in Atlanta and Baltimore.

David Hickton served as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania under President Barack Obama from 2010 to 2016. He is the founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security.

Screenshot / Google Maps

A new University of Pittsburgh study asks whether a revenue model set to be introduced in six rural Pennsylvania hospitals next year can both reduce patient admissions and increase profits.

The program is expected to be implemented in 30 rural hospitals by 2023. Data from Pennsylvania's Department of Health Innovation shows that in 2015, 47 percent of all rural hospitals in Pennsylvania had negative operating profit margins

Chris Choi / Carnegie Mellon University

Cylindrical in shape, about 3 feet long and undeterred by radioactive waste, RadPiper is a robot developed by a team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute to detect traces of nuclear material at a U.S. Department of Energy facility in Piketon, Ohio. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

At the offices of Pittsburgh’s Creative Nonfiction Foundation in Garfield, high schoolers experiment with writing in the style of a storied American literary institution—The Onion, a satirical online newspaper.

AP Images

Later this year, the site of the D. T. Watson Home for Crippled Children will receive a historic marker from Pennsylvania’s Historical and Museum Commission; the Allegheny County facility was the first site where the polio vaccine was tested on humans. 

In the early 1950s, Dr. Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh were working to develop a vaccine using dead strains of the virus.

BLUE COAT PHOTOS / Flickr

The city of Pittsburgh’s technology staff have been closely watching the ransomware attack that rendered Atlanta’s municipal computers useless for nearly a week.

John Zylka / Excela Health

Your doctor probably has a good idea of your medical history. But how well do they know you, as a person?

Andrew McAfee / Carnegie Mueseum of Natural History

The bones of a new species of meat-eating dinosaur have been discovered in the Patagonia region of Argentina, with the help of a local paleontologist.

Scientists believe the carnivorous Tratayenia rosalesi was about 30 feet long, with serrated teeth like a steak knife and hollow bones. It lived about 85 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period -- the last segment of the age of dinosaurs.

Courtesy of OSA Student Chapter at UCI Art in Science Contest / Flickr

New research from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh disrupts what was previously assumed about the brain's flexibility when learning a new task.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Fifteen in every 1,000 babies born in Pennsylvania in 2016 and 2017 were suffering from drug withdrawal, according to a new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. 

That's more than 1,900 newborns statewide born premature, underweight or in respiratory distress, all part of neonatal abstinence syndrome, which occurs when a pregnant woman addicted to drugs--often opioids--passes her addiction to the fetus, who experiences addiction withdrawal upon birth. 

Ketki Jadhav / Wabbit

A mobile game prototyped by Carnegie Mellon University students recently finished as a finalist in a National Geographic competition. The augmented reality app is designed to help patients in stroke recovery complete physical therapy tasks.

Dentist Group Puts Teeth In Push To Curb Opioid Painkillers

Mar 26, 2018
Toby Talbot / AP

The American Dental Association wants dentists to drastically cut back on prescribing opioid painkillers.

The association announced a new policy Monday that "essentially says eliminate opioids from your arsenal if at all possible," said Dr. Joseph Crowley, the group's president. The Chicago-based group represents around 161,000 dentists.

The group is also pushing for limiting opioid prescriptions to no more than a week and mandatory education for dentists that encourages using other painkillers.

SalFalko / Flickr

Social Security numbers are used for just about everything--financial records, medical information, legal documents.

Toby Talbot / AP

With more than 650 drug fatalities in 2017, Allegheny County broke the record for fatal overdoses set the previous year, which in turn broke the record established in 2015.

brian donovan / Flickr

A new report finds that Pittsburgh tech companies received $687 million in investments in 2017, which is the highest for a single year in the past decade.

Thomas Altany / University of Pittsburgh

Last week, the University of Pittsburgh celebrated the launch of a new makerspace at its Manufacturing Assistance Center in Homewood with a small ceremony.

Allegheny Health Network

Highmark Health announced Monday it recorded a $1.1 billion surplus in 2017, crediting the strong performance to increased investment in communities. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Shouts of surprise and joy erupted Friday at noon from graduating students at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.

Brennan Linsley / AP

With Tax Day just about four weeks away, Pennsylvania's Department of Revenue is urging residents to watch out for a new scam.

Subconsci Productions / Flickr

People who retire early may be tempted to purchase so-called “skinny” health insurance plans before Medicare kicks in because they’re less expensive, but Pennsylvania’s Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman told an AARP audience in Penn Hills on Wednesday that they should be careful when considering this type of insurance, as it’s not compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

It turns out a knitting machine can work a bit like a 3-D printer.

Charlie Riedel / AP

If everyone on the road is driving like a lunatic and your coworkers seem to be moving a little slower this week, take a deep breath, as many people probably haven't had enough rest due to the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Multi-layer constructs, the plastic packaging used for some food and beverage items like juice boxes and bags of chips, are composed of multiple layers of different materials. Because the different materials can't be separated, this packaging is not recyclable, and ends up in landfills or the environment.

Keith Srakocic / AP

After less than a month of medical marijuana being sold in Pennsylvania dispensaries are running out of product.

“I would almost call it like a ‘growing pain,'” said Rocco Levine, the general manager of Solevo Wellness in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh’s sole dispensary, which sold the last of its marijuana over the weekend.

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